Audio Console Shootout: Midas M32 vs Soundcraft Si Expression One

In Church Tech by lesbrown2 Comments

Last week we got a chance to test a couple of audio consoles that we’re thinking of implementing across all our campuses at Watermark. Ryan Howell and I saw a metric boatload (if you get my drift) of consoles at Infocomm a few months ago. We narrowed our focus to two consoles after the show and thanks to some solid arm twisting and rep wrangling from our friends at Idibri, the consoles were both delivered to our campus for testing.

The two consoles we landed on were the Midas M32 and the Soundcraft Si Expression 3. The rep from Soundcraft wasn’t able to get his hands on an Expression 3, but he did send an Expression 1, which is basically the same desk with fewer faders and physical inputs than the 3. For our purposes it was an adequate stand-in. The folks from Midas sent two sales reps and a brand new console still in the box. Soundcraft sent the console but no rep.

The console we will choose has to meet a few simple requirements. Many of the ones we looked at meet some or all of the requirements, but these two were the ones we thought were best.
Here’s what we are looking for in no particular order:

  1. Ease of operation – Most of these consoles will be run by volunteers who don’t have ridiculous amounts of time for training and getting to know the board. They need to be able to walk in and get started as soon as possible.
  2. Build quality – We need these things to last for a long time. We’re not rough on our gear, but we do like to keep it around as long as possible.
  3. Sound Quality – It doesn’t matter if they’re easy to learn and built like a tank if they sound terrible. We need them to sound good.
  4. Cost – We’re looking to buy a few of these and the lower the cost, the better.

Walking into the test, I thought I had a good idea of what we would find. I thought the Soundcraft board would “win” because at face value, it looked like the easier board to run. Fewer knobs, less screens to go through to get what you want. It just looked like an easy board for a volunteer to operate. After the test, I had a different opinion.

M32_P0B3I_Fisheye_ViewWe looked at the M32 from Midas first. Since their reps were there, they unboxed it and set it up for us. As the rep started going through the setup and operation of the console one thing became very clear – they nailed it with the operating system on this console. The firmware that originated in the Behringer X32 really shines in the Midas chassis. No matter what you’re trying to do on this console, it seems that the correct screen is either already engaged, or is one button click away. Very nice. Setting up mix groups, monitor sends, etc. is dead simple. Just a few very intuitive clicks and you have a drum group, vocal group, or whatever type of group you want ready to go. Really easy. The key word here is “intuitive”. Everything about the layout and operation of this console makes sense. That’s strong praise from an old video guy.

Soundcraft_Si_Expression_1_Angle_1After we wrapped up our demo of the M32, we moved on to the Soundcraft Si Expression. Let’s just say that it’s not super intuitive to operate. Lots of the same functionality is there, but figuring out how to get it to do what you want is kind of a challenge. With some time and a little bit of monkey-punching we got it do do what we wanted but never in a way that was as easy as the M32. Throw in the lack of scribble strips and limited screen real estate and you have some real shortcomings compared to the Midas board.

At the end of the day, it was an easy decision for us. The M32 had a fuller sound and was much easier to operate. Despite the fact that it costs about $1500 more than the Soundcraft, we landed squarely on the M32. You won’t see it at Front of House in our main room any time soon, but in the medium-sized rooms we are looking to outfit, it’s the perfect choice.

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lesbrownAudio Console Shootout: Midas M32 vs Soundcraft Si Expression One

Parenting 101: What The Toad Whisperer Taught Me

In Parenting by lesbrown4 Comments

Toad

My daughter, Abbie, is 8 years old. It’s hard for me to believe, but that precious girl is already 8. As the oldest, she learns a lot of lessons first, which isn’t easy. She also gets to teach Mom and Dad a few things as well. Also not easy.

After returning from Pine Cove family camp a few weeks ago, Abbie popped into the kitchen and asked if we had any frog food. Knowing that we had some somewhere from a failed attempt to raise tadpoles last year, I tried to brush her off.

“I think so, but I don’t know where. Why?”

“No reason.”

And she skipped off to her room. I thought I’d dodged a bullet for sure. No way did I want another pet to take care of. Desi and I have plenty to do already and the thought of getting another cage, aquarium, tank, etc. to clean or another mouth to feed made me crazy. “No More Pets!” has been my mantra for a while now and the incredikids know it.

A couple of days later, Abbie, quite casually asked, “Whatever happened to our little aquarium?” Not connecting the dots or even noticing that there were dots around to connect, I responded, “I’m not sure baby. Probably in the garage. Why?”

“No reason.”

I’m so off of my game. “No reason,” should stick out like a Las Vegas casino marquis on fire. There’s always a reason. Always.

And of course there was a reason. Sweet Abbiegirl came clean a few days later. She told her mom first. Smart. She had found two frogs (toads actually) at Pine Cove and kept them in a water bottle in our cabin. She poked holes in the bottle and put water and food (bugs) inside. She managed to smuggle them home in her stuff and then secreted them away to her room. We had absolutely no clue. She took care of them in her room for at least a week before telling us.

When Desi told me, I had one thought and one thought only – punishment. What is the correct punishment for this? We don’t have a specific rule about this, but it is a deception. No doubt about it. She has tricked us. She has DECEIVED us. And we can not stand for that. My internal punishment rolodex was spinning out of control when Desi stopped me.

“She did come clean about it. I didn’t have to ask her. And she has taken really great care of them. I don’t want to punish her when she comes to us and confesses.”

Good point.

Now, you can quibble with us over the choice to let her keep the frogs toads. And I’d be willing to hear the argument, but that’s not the point of this post. Here’s the point…

The toads are actually kind of awesome. The kids are loving it. A neighbor friend gave them an old tank she wasn’t going to use anymore. They’ve been reading up on toad care. There’s now some organic soil in the tank along with a little bowl of water and some rocks. The toads are happily burrowing into the dirt and eating pill bugs like crazy. And the incredikids are learning a ton. Abbie is taking responsibility for these things in a way that I haven’t seen her before with anything else. It’s really great. And there’s no way I would have ever said “yes” if she’d asked me. She knew that. And that’s the point. She shouldn’t have done this without asking. Especially if she knew what my response would be. We’ve had that conversation and we’ll have it again. But I need to learn something in this process, too. My little girl is growing up. She needs the benefit of learning from taking responsibility for things. I need to say “yes” more. Even when I’m pretty sure that I will be the one taking care of the toads at some point, I still need to say “yes” more. She needs these opportunities. All of them do. They won’t ever get them if the answer is always “no.”

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lesbrownParenting 101: What The Toad Whisperer Taught Me

Leadership Lessons From A Lone Ranger

In Church Tech, Leadership by lesbrownLeave a Comment

Lone Ranger

Aaron? Tanto? Anyone?

Reading Exodus 18 today and was reminded of an amazing leadership principle that we’re attempting to instill in our tech teams at Watermark. As Moses and the people leave the Red Sea and the Egyptian army (navy?) behind, their culture begins to go through a major shift. They’ve been in crisis mode ever since they left Egypt. They fled the only home that any of them had ever known carrying everything they own. After running for their lives with the Egyptians on their tails, they can finally breathe a little and possibly even relax. But not so for Moses. Every day he sits to judge the people. In short, he’s dealing with all of the people’s conflicts and squabbles. Not good. There are hundreds of thousands of people and only one of him. His Father-in-law, the wise man, Jethro sees this and gives Moses a big dose of tough love.

Now when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand about you from morning until evening?” Exodus 18:14

Moses responds very correctly:

Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor and make known the statutes of God and His laws.” Exodus 18:15–16

Moses is the only one around who can do what he does.  Big problem.

So Jethro gives Moses a few simple leadership lessons that make it possible for him to lead this vast group of people.

Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. Now listen to me: I will give you counsel, and God be with you. You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the work they are to do. Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. Exodus 18:17–21

Jethro understood a few key points that Moses, likely out of his desire to lead well, had missed. Here they are:

  1. You can’t do this alone.
  2. God has equipped you.
  3. You equip the people.
  4. Choose men who fear God and make them leaders.

These same lessons apply to us in the Church Tech World. I know they have to me. In most cases it’s easier for me to just handle a problem or issue on my own than to entrust it to someone else, but when I do that I’m failing. If I don’t teach other people to do what I do then my ministry can’t grow. It’s an easy trap to fall into and one I’m still working to avoid.

Moses was an amazing leader and it was easy for him to become a lone ranger. Don’f fall into that same trap yourself. You may be the most technically-proficient guy within 100 miles of your building, but just like Moses, you can’t do this alone. Stop trying to. Thank God today for equipping you to do what you do and ask him to bring you others who you can equip. Train them well. Out of that group, choose men who fear God and make them leaders. In doing so, you will serve your church, your volunteers, yourself, and ultimately, your God, well.

What are you doing to combat the Lone Ranger trap? How does this work in your ministry?

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lesbrownLeadership Lessons From A Lone Ranger